As the age of technology continues to make progress so do the criminal techniques used to steal identities. This identity theft can include any type of personal information including account numbers, your social insurance number, your bank account information, credit card numbers etc. The purpose of collecting this information is to commit some type of unlawful activity like theft or fraud.
Once you have become a victim of identity theft it can take months to get everything put back together again. You'll have to close down bank accounts, get new credit cards, fix up your credit rating if it has been affected and a number of other things in order to clear your name.
Here are some of the common practices used by thieves in order to collect your personal information:
- Stealing private information from your mailbox, purse or wallet
- Retrieving information through your recycling bin or even your garbage
- Hacking into your computer
- Setting up fraudulent websites
- Redirecting your mail
- Reading your information from an ATM machine
- Posing as a potential employer, landlord or creditor to access your details
- Purchasing the information from an employee that may have access to your financial or personal information
These are just some of the ways that a thief can get a hold of your credit card data and other personal information that you certainly don't want to have shared. Now, here are some of the signs of identity theft that indicate that you may have been targeted:
- Your statements and bills aren't arriving in the mail when they are supposed to
- You apply for some type of credit and it is denied for reasons that don't match your financial situation
- Creditors or collection agencies are calling you in regards to suspicious financial matters
- Irregularities are showing up on your financial accounts
- You find out you've been denied or approved for credit that you didn't apply for
In order to protect yourself from identity theft you should pay close attention to the websites you visit when you are shopping and are prepared to make purchases with a credit card. Sites should start with https:// instead of http:// and there should be some type of lock appearing on the site showing that it's secure. You must only be willing to share your credit card details with sites that you are familiar with.
You should never give out your personal information through an email or a phone call. Your bank will never call you to ask you for your personal account details unless you are at the bank in person. They will also never send you an email asking for these details.
The best way to keep yourself protected is to get a copy of your credit report twice a year and check it to make sure that all the information is correct and up-to-date. You should also keep a close eye on your credit card statements and banking details so that you can catch anything suspicious as soon as it appears.
The more proactive you are against identity theft the better your chances are of staying out of harm's way. Keep your eyes open and take a few minutes every month to go over your financial paperwork to ensure that everything looks good and there are no signs of identity theft that you should be concerned about.